Well, the dust has settled from "Monster Saturday"...let's review shall we...
-I'll start, of course, with Miami. Firstly, Jacory Harris. This was supposed to be the year where he put it all together and stopped making stupid mistakes, becoming the quarterback that all Hurricanes fans had hoped and expected him to become. Now, Ohio State's defense deserves a lot of credit. Not every defense in the country would have converted some of these mistakes into turnovers and OSU's impeccably coached D is one of the best at it. However, with this game, the hope of Jacory becoming the QB we all thought he could be has taken a huge hit. It seems likely now that he will never fulfill his potential and while he deserves some of the blame, most of it rests squarely on the shoulders of Mark Whipple. For starters, Whipple is the Canes' QB coach and appears to have failed in that capacity. Making stupid mistakes is a red flag that signifies poor coaching. Not only that but Whipple's play-calling has been called into question a number of times and it only seems like it's getting worse each week. He calls for downfield throws at some of the most suspect times. He often runs something that's working too many times in a row and if not, he stops running it too soon. He calls for things like a short pass over the middle in a goal-to-go situation that gets intercepted by Cam Heyward and returned into Miami territory (obviously there's no way Jacory should have thrown it there but not only was it a bad call but Damien Berry did a terrible job of coming back to the ball). A lot of people have been calling for Randy Shannon's job and he does deserve some of the blame but, in my opinion, he'll be fine in a year or two. If anyone should be on the hot seat for Miami right now it should be Whipple, who has been rumored to have been spending more time with the backup QBs (one of which is his son, Spencer) than he has with Jacory. Additionally, many Miami fans continue to wonder why this team doesn't install and run the no-huddle offense on a regular basis--the offense that Jacory Harris ran brilliantly in high school. The bottom line is that this team lost to Ohio State because it is poorly coached in several aspects of the game. The receivers had nine dropped balls--two of the Buckeyes' four interceptions went directly through the hands of Travis Benjamin. Five false start penalties on the offensive line (four of which came in a crucial third quarter). The defense missed tackles all over the field, including in Ohio State's backfield, allowing Terrell Pryor to rush for 113 yards and pick up six first downs with his feet. There were also a couple of dropped interceptions by the secondary that could have been monsterously huge. Granted, the defense was put in some truly awful situations by turnovers and big returns and held up impressively well considering the circumstances but that's no excuse for missed tackles and dropped interceptions. On a day when Pryor was inconsistent with his arm, the Canes handed him scoring opportunities and first downs and failed to convert his mistakes into turnovers. On a day when the Canes got TWO special teams touchdowns and a very respectable finger-in-the-dam performance by the defense that kept them in the game for at least one half, the offense often failed to move the ball, and when they did, they were thwarted by Jacory Harris interceptions. The talent on this team is not being developed at the pace it should be and the players are not being properly prepared for gameday. Hurricanes fans will be delighted to know that Randy Shannon ripped into his team Saturday evening in the locker room after the game--quite possibly for the first time since he was hired to coach the team. "I never have seen him like that," offensive lineman Orlando Franklin told AP, "but I can't say I was shocked." There has also been much made of his decision to ban his team from using Twitter, which he sees as a distraction. Some around the program are seriously examining the possibility that this new, meaner Randy Shannon may not be an aberration--and the transformation comes not a moment too soon. If the Canes don't win at least 10 games and the (extremely underwhelming) ACC, then there probably should be a murderer's row of coaches fired, perhaps starting with Mark Whipple--and Randy's ass will undoubtedly be firmly planet on a fiery hot stove.
-Well, Florida had a week to tighten all the loose screws and prove that the opening day struggles against the Red Hawks of Miami University were an aberration. That didn't happen. Sure the Gators ran away with the game in the second half thanks to some takeaways by the defense (notice I didn't refer to them as "turnovers created") but for much of the first half, the Gators were again dominated on both sides of the ball. Their first offensive drive was a three-and-out that included yet another fumbled snap. The Bulls' first drive was a 17 play, 96 yard touchdown drive that included several big first down runs by QB B.J. Daniels as well as a killer pass interference against the Gators that set up the touchdown after they stopped Daniels for a loss of 8 on 2nd and Goal from the 1. It was 7-0 Bulls for almost the entire half until a bone-headed B.J. Daniels interception deep in USF territory led to the Gators' first touchdown, making it 7-7 at the half. A fumble on a second half drive that had progressed into the Florida red zone took certain points off the board and sparked a 62-yard touchdown run by Jeff Demps which broke the game open (for the second consecutive week). The offense did eventually settle in but you have to wonder if a trend is developing and if the offense will be struggling like this all year. Today we might learn just about all we need to know about this team as they travel to Knoxville to face their first (and, likely, most) hostile environment of the season (and John Brantley's first hostile environment as a starter). If they don't improve drastically in a big hurry, they could find themselves in big trouble in Neyland Stadium.
*Side Note: Creepy Chris Rainey--Stay Classy. 30 arrests of 27 players in 6 years under Urban Meyer? Who's the real Thug U now? And by the way, it's no coincidence that no one (except, perhaps, Hurricanes fans) has noticed this until now, when the Gators are beginning to struggle in the post-Chosen-One era.
-Speaking of the Gators, you better believe that if the defense continues to miss as many tackles as they've been missing and continues to get dominated up front that Marcus Lattimore will absolutely trample them. This kid is phenomenal. I can't remember the last freshman I've seen that was this hard to bring down. Talk about a hard runner. With Lattimore, Stephen Garcia, great play from the offensive line, and a stellar defense, the Gamecocks might have the pieces in place for the first time under Steve Spurrier to legitimately contend for an SEC title. They've already beaten Georgia but they have yet to face Tennessee and Florida or travel to Auburn or Alabama. If they beat Florida and win the East, this team will have been thoroughly tested and will have already faced the Tide, who they would likely face again in the SEC title game. I'm not sure you can even call them a dark horse pick anymore the way Florida is playing.
-Oh yeah. Denard Robinson. The Heisman hype has officially arrived. The Wolverines have two more glorified scrimmages against UMass and Bowling Green before the Big Ten opener on the road against Indiana and a rivalry game against Michigan State, both of which they should also be favored in. Then Iowa comes rolling into town to really test "Shoe Lace" and company followed by a trip to Death Valley two weeks later. Then a few weeks of whatever before closing out the season by welcoming Wisconsin and traveling to the Horseshoe in consecutive weeks. Bottom line: if Michigan is for real, there will be no excuses against the tough teams because they'll have more than enough time to work out all the kinks.
There's probably more I could say about a few other things (USC barely got by Virginia after giving up 36 points to Hawaii, Kansas put 28 points on the board in beating a ranked GT team after losing to North Dakota State 6-3, James Madison picked off a hung over Virginia Tech and badly bruised Boise State's national title hopes in the process) but it's already 10 to 12 and I haven't even gotten to my picks yet so let's go ahead and do that...
#12 Arkansas @ Georgia
Georgia comes off being suffocated by South Carolina's defense and steamrolled by Marcus Lattimore in a 17-6 loss. But they, at least, have been tested, which Arkansas hasn't. Considering that and the fact that this game is between the hedges, I get the feeling Georgia will keep it close. However, in the end, Ryan Mallet is just way too good for Georgia's defense and picks them apart late in the game to pull away.
Hobbitcore sez: Arkansas
Air Force @ #7 Oklahoma
This could be a much better game than it might seem. Air Force has a very dynamic offense and a much better secondary than Florida State. However, Landry Jones has found his stride, DeMarco Murray is rockin', and Oklahoma has won 32 straight in Norman. Not today, Falcons.
Hobbitcore sez: Oklahoma
BYU @ FSU
Both are looking to rebound from tough losses but despite both teams being somewhat disappointing, this should be a real entertaining game, especially when the Noles offense faces the Cougar defense. I like FSU at home to get it done.
Hobbitcore sez: Florida State
Notre Dame @ Michigan State
This is always a good one and this year should be no different. Dayne Crist and company face their first big road test and I like them to rebound from a very tough loss last week.
Hobbitcore sez: Notre Dame
#6 Texas @ Texas Tech
Another team facing their first road test (Lubbock will be absolutely rocking for this game) and another game that is likely to be a lot closer than it seems like it should be. Taylor Potts and the Red Raider offense are one of the most underrated groups in the country and Tommy Tuberville has the defense playing much better. Look for Garret Gilbert to have a breakout game and make some plays late in the game, showing shades of last year's BCS title game, to pull out a close win at the end.
Hobbitcore sez: Texas
UPSET OF THE WEEK
#10 Florida @ Tennessee
I know, I know, I'm a Gator hater. I also know that the Vols defense got completely shredded by Oregon last week. According to their defensive captain, they "quit" in the second half of that game and therefore I really like them to come out with a chip on their shoulder and fly to the ball, capitalizing on some early Gator mistakes and pounding the ball against their defense, committing none of the stupid turnovers that cost Miami University and South Florida their upset bids.
Hobbitcore sez: Tennessee
GAME OF THE WEEK
#9 Iowa @ #24 Arizona
I know it's not very sexy but this will be a very physical, hard fought battle between two terrific defenses and two underrated offenses. There will be some serious hitting in this game and it will be fun to watch. I'm excited to see Arizona's running game face off against Iowa's monster defense. After seeing Ohio State first hand last week, Iowa is my new pick to win the Big Ten--as well as this game.
Hobbitpick: Iowa 19, Arizona 13
No fun stuff at the end this week, I've already missed my deadline by 12 minutes...you're just gonna have to trust me that I didn't change anything in the 12 minutes I spent half-listening to Arkansas/Georgia on the TV behind my while I typed furiously to finish this thing.